California Family Law Attorney

Are Community Property Earnings Liable for the Other's Spouse's Premarital Debts?

Community property earnings are not liable for the other spouse's premarital debts so long as the monies are not commingled in a joint bank account, and the other spouse was not able to tap into the bank account of the first spouse (i.e., the obligated spouse is not a co-signor on the deposit account). If you are married to a person who has significant separate property debt, don't add their names to the bank accounts where you deposit your wages.


Family Code section 911

(a) The earnings of a married person during marriage are not liable for a debt incurred by the person's spouse before marriage.
After the earnings of the married person are paid, they remain not liable so long as they are held in a deposit account in which the person's spouse has no right of withdrawal and are uncommingled with other property in the community estate, except property insignificant in amount.
(b) As used in this section:
(1) "Deposit account" has the meaning prescribed in paragraph (29) of subdivision (a) of Section 9102 of the Commercial Code.
(2) "Earnings" means compensation for personal services performed, whether as an employee or otherwise.